Why Escape Rooms Are a Great Way to Test Potential Hires

I’m tired of traditional job interviews. They tell me nothing about the candidate, offering practiced statements and small talk about where they went to college.

Before I make the investment of hiring someone, I need to see how they react under pressure. I need to see if they can think on their feet or if they need some guidance. I need to see if they show leadership skills or have a sound ability to follow directions.

So here’s my idea: I want to put my candidates in an escape room, encouraging them to work together to solve clues and come together around the common goal of figuring out a puzzle and escaping a scary situation. It’s not just for Halloween anymore.

This isn’t that crazy of an idea. Companies that run escape rooms have started opening up to businesses, renting out space to test potential hires. Many businesses have also used escape rooms as a team-building exercise.

In Rocklin, near Sacramento, Beat the Room encourages hiring managers to test out prospects. AdventureRooms in Montclair, New Jersey has also found a new market through corporate usage.

Studies show that 46 percent of new hires will fail within 18 months. Clearly, the current hiring process isn’t working that well. Here’s why I think using an escape room can lead to you finding the next great hire.

Critical Thinking Skills

There’s absolutely nothing a prospect could say or put in a cover letter that accurately shows me how they think. For all I know, they could be blowing smoke and saying all the right things, only to be a dud one they’re on payroll.

I look at escape rooms as a physical manifestation of a business objective. At the office, we all have different responsibilities, but are working together to achieve goals we’ve set. In the escape room, people use their skills differently, but work together to find a way out of the room. I feel I can learn more about a candidate in a one-hour escape room session than I can in the dozens of hours spent during the hiring process.

Sure, their LinkedIn might show them as an acclaimed critical thinker, but as with most other things in life: just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true.

In an escape room, I can see if the candidate gets flustered or takes a calm, collected approach to solving the puzzles presented.

Teamwork

Escape rooms are an incredible way at figuring out if the candidate is a team player. Do they try to do the entire process themselves? Do they just sit back and let other people do the work? Or do they use their skills to contribute to the victory? I only want the third type of prospect.

Job interviews do such a poor job of sussing out those who lack the ability to work as part of a team. It’s such a critical skill, one that roughly 75 percent of employers say is very important.

Wouldn’t you rather test out their aptitude for teamwork in real-time, instead of relying on fully polished appearances such as traditional job interviews and cover letters?

These rooms are designed in such a way that one person alone cannot solve everything on time. They place an emphasis on teamwork, motivating each participant to use their unique skills and abilities to contribute.

If you’re hiring a manager, you can see if they take charge and provide structure to the madness. If you’re hiring an entry-level person, you can get a feel for how they take direction and criticism.

Get to Know Candidate Better

The current job interview process is disliked by both candidates and hiring managers. Hiring managers are asking the same questions over and over, hoping for some buzzwords. The candidate is just trying to say whatever he or she can in order to get to the next interview or receive an offer.

Does anyone really reap any kind of benefit from this process? You have no idea if the person will jell with your team or deliver on their promises. Then you’ll have to cut ties with them and start the whole painful process over again.

But by going with an escape room, you can bump them out of their comfort zone and really get to know the candidate. Getting a prospect out of their comfort zone is a major tenet of Google’s hiring process. They do it with off-the-wall questions that require logic and creativity. I’d love to see more companies embrace a non-traditional hiring process.

So if you’re sick of wasting your days interviewing potential duds, look into escape rooms to truly figure out who fits within your company — and who couldn’t think their way out of a paper bag.

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